The famous Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the lead-up to the Norman conquest of England, was created just under 1,000 years ago.

One interesting detail about this immense work is that it isn't actually a tapestry at all. Instead of being a woven textile, it is in fact a work of embroidery - stitch after stitch after stitch stretching for an amazing 70 metres. 

Maybe that medieval masterpiece was on the mind of Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary yesterday, as he spoke about government formation on RTÉ's This Week.

At the beginning of the interview, there was a clear sense of urgency about the talks: "We are anxious to put a government in place. There are so many people depending on a new government."

But later, the embroidery analogy came into play, as the Mayo deputy, and Fianna Fáil lead negotiator, explained why talks were still continuing - 16 weeks after the general election. 

Calleary said: "It’s the old saying: a stitch in time saves nine. We’re putting the stitches in now to make sure we have a strong platform for a strong government." 

More than a few stitches will be required if the Green Party’s Fingal TD, Joe O’Brien, is to be believed. He told RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, rather bluntly, that a deal is by no means guaranteed. 

He said: "I think it’s important just to say - this is not a fait accompli. We have got a lot of sticky issues to deal with, I think, over the next week or so. I think having an agreement by the end of the week is a target. It’s probably an optimistic target from my point of view."

The deputy isn’t one of the party’s five-member negotiating team. However, he was clearly speaking with some authority when he added: "I think Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have some distance to go before we get a deal that we can put to our membership that we think might pass." 

The deadline set by the leaders of the three parties involved in the talks is for a draft text on a programme for government to be completed by next weekend. But it didn't sound like a hard-deadline, when Fine Gael Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan was interviewed on the same programme.

The Limerick County TD said: "I don’t think there is any immediate panic this week." 

He argued that the focus has to be on the negotiators getting the right deal which would be backed by the different party memberships: "I think the timeframe has to be about making sure that the programme for government…is likely to pass all of the hurdles that have to be passed." 

So when are we going to get a government?

Well, it's clear that while the talks process has usually been characterised by constructive engagement, it's taking longer than expected to reach consensus on the text.

It's also clear that many of what Deputy O'Brien called "sticky issues" have yet to be tackled and signed-off. And that does not bode well for the agreement of a draft programme for government by the weekend. 

The likelihood now is that it’s going to drift into next week.

My colleague, Mícheál Lehane, put it well on RTÉ’s Your Politics Podcast when he said that if a deal is going to be done, you get the sense that the parties are going to "fall over the finish-line." 

Speaking with negotiators from all three parties, I get the sense that they have not been able to sign-off on enough text; which has led to more issues that expected being kicked-up-stairs to party leaders or kicked-down-the-road for a later decision. This has contributed to an absence of momentum and, inevitably, to slipped deadlines. 

To be fair to the negotiating teams, Covid-19 has caused big difficulties - for example, there is a two-hour limit on face-to-face meetings. This has undoubtedly placed limits on personal relationships which are often crucial in such negotiations. 

We also have to recognise that what's being negotiated is a piece of political history - for the first time in more than 90 years, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are planning on entering a coalition government together despite long decades of close-quarter combat. Burying the hatchet isn't easy. 

Yet, outside the political bubble, there’s been consternation that we still don't have a government almost four months after the General Election. In the middle of a pandemic, and with dire economic warnings, the public's frustration is palpable. 

Watching-on, and waiting for 'the' phone call, are the Independent TDs who are considering signing-up to whatever is concluded between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens. 

Beyond that again are the parties who either chose to exit the talks process or were excluded from it. 

Sinn Féin, for example. Yesterday the party's housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, outlined what needed to be in a programme for government as Ireland emerges from Covid-19 restrictions and the economy starts to re-boot.

He said fairness had to be at the core of any economic recovery and contended that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were incapable of delivering such a fair and stable economy.

Despite it being a bank holiday, the negotiators will be back around the table today. The only item on the agenda is agriculture - definitely one of those "sticky issues" as described by Joe O'Brien. The tough decisions can't be delayed any longer. 

One negotiator texted me saying: "A big week [is] needed now to get [a deal] over the line" It seems most likely, at this point at least, that they will ultimately get there. 

Then again, nothing is guaranteed. 

We don't know how the Bayeux Tapestry ended -  the final section hasn't survived. The negotiating teams from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens will be hoping that their talks don't meet a similar fate and unravel.